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Antibody Cocktail Cures Monkeys of Ebola 101

Posted by samzenpus
from the there's-a-pill-for-that dept.
ananyo writes "Monkeys infected with Ebola have been cured by a cocktail of three antibodies first administered 24 hours or more after exposure. The result raises hopes that a future treatment could improve the chances of humans surviving the disease caused by the deadly virus, which kills up to 90% of infected people and could potentially be used as a biological weapon. Most treatment regimes tested to date only improve chances of survival if administered within one hour of infection (abstract)."
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Antibody Cocktail Cures Monkeys of Ebola

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  • by camperdave (969942) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @07:58PM (#40330239) Journal

    Dionysius (II) was a fourth century B.C. tyrant of Syracuse, a city in Magna Graecia [about.com], the Greek area of southern Italy. To all appearances Dionysius was very rich and comfortable, with all the luxuries money could buy, tasteful clothing and jewelry, and delectable food. He even had court flatterers (adsentatores) to inflate his ego. One of these ingratiators was the court sycophant, Damocles. Damocles used to make comments to the king about his wealth and luxurious life. One day when Damocles complimented the tyrant on his abundance and power, Dionysius turned to Damocles and said, "If you think I'm so lucky, how would you like to try out my life?"

    Damocles readily agreed, and so Dionysius ordered everything to be prepared for Damocles to experience what life as Dionysius was like. Damocles was enjoying himself immensely... until he noticed a sharp sword hovering over his head, that was suspended from the ceiling by a horse hair. This, the tyrant explained to Damocles, was what life as ruler was really like.

    Damocles, alarmed, quickly revised his idea of what made up a good life, and asked to be excused. He then eagerly returned to his poorer, but safer life.

    ... For those of us not up on our Classical stories.

  • Re:Monkeys (Score:4, Informative)

    by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @08:14PM (#40330395) Homepage
    Ebola is deadly but it isn't that great at spreading. The vast majority of Ebola spread occurs through bodily fluids. This is a problem in less sanitary or hygenic environments- if you don't know the person who is vomiting has Ebola you aren't going to be as careful. Avoiding direct contact works for most purposes and so Ebola research generally occurs in a Biosafety-4 lab http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosafety_level [wikipedia.org]. This generally means that one has a pressure suit on at all times when working with the agent or infected lab animals. One goes through an ultraviolet scan and a shower system on exiting. But in the case of Ebola most of this is arguably overkill (in comparison most level 4 critters are ones that can spread through the air or through very small droplets). When doctors and nurses are working with Ebola they often just use full face masks without pressure suits (although that is to some extent for the practical reason that bringing pressure suits out to isolated areas would be very tough, and you certainly can't bring the whole lab environment out).
  • Re:Monkeys (Score:5, Informative)

    by gman003 (1693318) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @08:27PM (#40330489)

    Ebola research, at least in the US and Europe, can *only* be performed at Biosafety Level 4 labs - literally the highest there is.

    The labs are fully isolated. Any air or water going in or out will be subjected to enough UV light to kill any virus, followed by extreme heat and powerful chemicals. The lab areas are kept at a lower atmospheric pressure, so if there *is* a leak, air flows in, not out.

    Humans going in require multiple chemical showers, going through several airlocks including a vacuum chamber, and wearing a full positive-pressure suit with an *isolated* air supply, not filtered. And even then, all work is done inside Class II or III biosafety cabinets (the boxes with gloves in them).

    There are less than fifty active BSL-4 labs in the entire planet, and only fifteen in the United States. These are specifically designed for the worst of the worst - Smallpox, Ebola, Lassa, and the like.

    In the United States, BSL-4 labs that contain potential biological weapons, such as the smallpox lab, are guarded by the US Army. I believe Ebola is one of those diseases.

    Trust me. They know how to keep diseases contained.

  • by Benfea (1365845) on Thursday June 14, 2012 @09:45PM (#40331051)
    They're not just evil, they're insane. Once released, you can't control where they go, a lesson that should have been learned from the Bubonic Plague, but apparently neither Soviets nor Americans learned our lessons from history. :(

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